Seasons in the sun. Seasons of life. Change of seasons. There has been so much rolling through my head lately. At random times of the day I have some really bright moments, moments of reflection and understanding. I listen to the Rich Roll podcast when I’m road tripping and it never fails to inspire and enlighten me. The thing is I get these great insights while I’m driving down the highway at 80 miles per hour, and I don’t have any way to get them out of my head. I just hope like hell I can remember the revelation later. In an effort to remember those insights, I’m writing. Maybe aimlessly, but writing.
I believe that part of becoming a better person, a wiser person, comes from reflecting upon the events of your own life, the things you’ve gone through and what you’ve learned from them, how they affected you, the decisions you’ve made, the mistakes you’ve made. You can walk blindly through life, never taking that time to reflect, until it is too late. I want to continually be trying to become a better version of myself. I want to learn and grow and be wise, and not just travel through this brief time of mine on this earth unaware and oblivious to the deeper things, the deeper truths.
I’ve thought a lot about my running life and the turns that it has taken. My motivation and drive have been different this year. I had big plans at the beginning of the year. I planned to run a 50 mile and a 100 mile race and did neither of them. I did run a trail marathon in April – which was very hard and very satisfying. It challenged me mentally more than any other race I’ve done. But after that race, my body and mind seemed to have a breakdown of sorts. I was still running and at that point training for the North Fork 50 mile, but I was never able to get back on track with my training, and I never got to the starting line of that race. Time went on and it became clear to me that I was not going to be able to run Javelina Jundred which was to be my ‘A’ race for 2016. On the surface, I could say I just didn’t want it bad enough. And when I just look at the surface, I could get really down on myself. When I dig a little deeper, with me changing jobs and moving to Nevada, I think things worked out for the best. I believe that all things happen for a reason in this world.
And maybe that’s just a way to appease my mind in regards to things I don’t understand.
I thought about the difference between this year and last year. 2015 was a shitty and wonderful year – all at the same time. I was training to run the Colfax Marathon when I lost my 16 year old son to suicide. My life briefly spiraled into a very dark place, but then I dealt with my grief by running – I worked through the loss and used the loss as fire in my belly, often telling myself and Brice, that I wouldn’t quit. In spite of not completing the Colfax Marathon, I bounced back determined to do something bigger and something that would push my limits further and trained and finished the Bear Chase 50k in September. But I used that grief – which is a stronger emotion than anything I’ve ever felt – to push me and motivate me. However, grief, like anger, can only fuel the fire for so long. It burns hot but it doesn’t last. I realized that I could no longer count on that to be my motivation. Maybe I used running to cope with the grief, but maybe to not deal with it. I don’t know. I don’t think so.
I heard a story about holding a glass of water out in front of your body, with the glass representing some stressor in your life. You can hold it out there for a few minutes and be okay. You can hold onto it for an hour and it’s going to become more and more painful, but you can do it. If you continue to hold onto it, you will begin to cause permanent damage to your body. The only way to relieve the pain, is to put the glass down. As Wayne and I have worked through the grief as parents and as a couple, we have chosen to put the glass down. It has been 19 months since we lost Brice. And most days, I get through them just fine, with my new normal. Recently as I meet new people, they often ask, How many kids do you have? I always hesitate. It’s an obvious pause because I will always be the mother of 4 beautiful children – a matched set, I used to say. 2 boys and 2 girls. But I have 3 children with me now. Yes, I know, Brice will always be in my heart and he’s always there with me and he’s probably watching over me now and all that shit that sounds really nice, but the fact of the matter is that when I have a family dinner or buy Christmas presents or look in his bedroom, HE IS NOT THERE! He’s not. And he never will be again. I loved that kid so damn much. I don’t have a favorite child, but there was just always something about Brice that stole my heart. And I try really hard to not let his death be what defines me, but some days, it just still hurts like a mother fucker, and I don’t want to have to act like it doesn’t. Some days, I don’t want to be strong or brave or be able to do hard things. Some days I just want to cry and scream and curl up into a ball. And it really pisses me off. It makes me angry at him that he took that whole fucking bottle of pills and chased it down with booze out of my cabinet. Why? Why would he do it? Why didn’t he just walk out of the room and say Mom, I need your help. Mom, I did something I shouldn’t have. Mom, I’m afraid. And the thought that he was alone and afraid and that I couldn’t do anything about is heart wrenching. Maybe he wasn’t afraid. Maybe he felt relief for the first time in a long time. It’s a terrible, shitty, indescribable feeling that I would never wish on anyone. This isn’t what was supposed to happen. He was going to finish high school and go to Finland. I have no idea what the hell he was going to do in Finland, but that’s what he wanted to do. Supposedly people in Finland are some of the happiest people in the world….maybe that’s why he wanted to go there. I never thought about that until this second as I’m typing the words. Maybe he wasn’t happy and thought if he went to Finland, his chances for being happy would be better. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I will always love that kid. I know that he was a good person with a big heart. I know he wasn’t perfect. I know that I only have memories of him now, and that I haven’t made any new memories with him for 19 months. And I know that when those moments of intense rage and grief and sadness come upon me out of the blue – when a song comes on the jukebox in the pizza place, when I’m driving to work and alone with my thoughts, when someone says ‘I just wanted to die’, or uses the gun emoji next to a face emoji – those feelings hit really hard and then they go away. They burn really hot and then fade away. Must be why using it as motivation to run has the same effect. It doesn’t last. It fades away and passes.
(Big deep breath. Heavy sigh.)
What I’ve realized is that I need to find a more lasting source of motivation – a cleaner burning fuel as it is. Running has served many purposes for me. It’s a relationship – a lot like a marriage. Maybe we got together under less than pure circumstances – I wanted to lose weight, look good naked (or at least better), and feel better – all fairly superficial or shallow reasons. When crisis struck, running was a tool. I used it for my own advantage and my own needs – never really giving anything back. But the passion started to fade, and with no depth to our relationship, I felt us pulling away from each other – still enjoying each other’s company on occasion, but not growing in our relationship. For any relationship to grow, you’ve got to get past the shallow stuff, get past the hurt, and figure out why you really love each other, and why you want to grow old together. When you make that relationship a priority, all the other distractions and temptations become null and void. I need to run – not only to make myself feel better and not just to fit into size 6 jeans or to look pretty good for 47 years old – it needs to become part of who I am. Something that is not just an accessory but fused to my core. Running makes me a better person. When I run regularly, I’m a better wife and mom. I’m more productive at work and I sleep better. I crave healthy food and make better choices. Running has introduced me to some of the most amazing people and shown me places I never thought I’d see. And yet, running doesn’t ask much in return – it’s the giver in the relationship, it just asks for my loyalty. It just wants me to keep showing up, to not give up.
That’s not too much to ask.
Thank you to my husband and partner and best friend, who endures mood swings like this post on a daily basis; for showing me what true love really is; and never letting me go.